Sidney Bechet: Perdido Street Blues


Perdido Street Blues


Sidney Bechet (clarinet, soprano sax)


Really The Blues (Living Era)

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Sidney Bechet (clarinet, soprano sax), Louis Armstrong (trumpet),

Claude Jones (trombone), Luis Russell (piano), Bernard Addison (guitar), Wellman Braud (bass), Zutty Singleton (drums)


Composed by Lil Hardin & Louis Armstrong


Recorded: New York, May 27, 1940


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

This track is from the notable 1940 recording reunion of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. Some critics called the results "disappointing," but to my ears this track, at least, is terrific.

Bechet opens with a brilliant riff on clarinet, soaring at the start and adding a superbly crafted line, only to step downward with bluesy, slurred and bent notes to rich, low-register tones. Armstrong follows with equal brilliance, flowing through inventive lead lines with that inimitable trumpet tone and blues feel, punching out well-placed accents, and creating a beautifully structured solo. After adding subtle counterpoint behind Satch for a couple of bars, Sidney jumps in wailing with a further sparkling lead line on soprano sax. These two masters are already spurring each other to musical heights.

The fine pianist Luis Russell's mellow interlude follows, guitarist Bernard Addison adds atmosphere, and trombonist Claude Jones restates the theme before the storm. To set the final scene, Armstrong gives us three majestically punched-out climbing notes, then a smooth thematic variation at medium volume, as the band backs him with a rumbling, rolling repeated figure carried on from their earlier work. Satchmo cuts loose with a beaut of a line, building intensity, climbing to a series of high notes with blues slurs for a penultimate climax. He ends on a mid-range note, from which Sidney takes off for one last rollicking, soaring phrase to end it in compelling fashion.

This is "disappointing"?! Some critics needed their hearing aids checked.

Reviewer: Dean Alger

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